6 Steps to Cure Writers Block and Streamline the Writing Process
Recently, I have been struggling with writer’s block. In a career that requires a significant amount of writing, writer’s block can quickly become a problem. For the past two weeks, I have had difficulty coming up with topics and finding my creative muse, so, naturally, I felt inclined to understand the cause of writer’s block and how to overcome it.
I found an article by Lawrence J. Oliver, Jr., entitled, Helping Students Overcome Writer’s Block. It seemed fitting – Oliver had an interesting take on writers block, arguing that writer’s block is a byproduct of the way our education systems teach writing composition.
Students are taught (on a product-centered model) that writing is a linear activity, and by following the “instructions” in our textbooks (organizing, outlining, developing main points, constructing sentences, and editing), you create a quality piece of writing. Students spend most of their time learning grammar and conventions and reading “good” examples of writing, but don’t actually spend time composing their own pieces. Teachers don’t offer advice on the writing process – starting with generating ideas and ending in editing – rather, they critique the final product. Oliver argues that this practice is not the best way to develop writing skills and actually causes writer’s block.
You may be asking yourself why this topic is relevant; however, if you examine today’s business environment, there is a strong emphasis on writing blogs as a regular practice. By using Oliver’s advice on overcoming writers block with a new dynamic process of writing, you can streamline the writing process, which can be translated to other areas, such as blogging.
6 Steps to Curing Writers Block and Streamlining the Writing Process
- Forget ALL the rules – Don’t get hung up on grammar, punctuation, spelling, and so on…just write. Oliver states that “By focusing attention on their [students’] writing as writing instead of on the topic at hand, they prevent themselves from generating and sustaining a train of ideas, thus slowing down or even halting their composing process.”
- Try “freewriting” – In a freewriting session, the individual is to write nonstop for 10 – 15 minutes on any given topic, without stopping to rewrite, revise, or fix errors. Even if you get off topic, keep your pen to paper and write exactly what you’re thinking. If you spell something wrong, just keep going. Freewriting is more or less a warm-up activity and it not intended to be a polished piece of writing.
- Evaluate your freewriting – Now that you have a paragraph or two, reread what you wrote and highlight any concepts or points that you could use as framework for your piece. It is essential to not edit your freewriting; just look for main concepts that you will rewrite or expand upon later.
Draft your piece – Now that you are in the drafting portion, choose one of the following methods:
- Develop an outline based on the points you picked out from your freewriting and proceed with the standard writing process.
- If you don’t like outlines, just try writing the piece from start to finish in a similar fashion to a freewrite session. You can always edit and rewrite after you get your ideas down on paper. This is my preferred method, but it doesn’t work for everyone.
- Polish your piece – Now that you have a working draft…revise, revise, revise. This is the stage where you can fix your grammar and spelling errors, add transitions, and take out unnecessary tangents.
- Find a good editor – If grammar and spelling aren't your strong suit, find a good editor to look at your work. In fact, even if you ARE good at it, find someone you trust to read your work – it NEVER fails they will find something you missed or see something that could be made even better.
This is just a guide and this process may not work for everyone, but it will help some. Just as a side note: I wrote this blog using this process and it seemed to work for me. I have also had some of my colleagues use this process that have difficulty writing and they were successful. If you’re struggling with writers block, give it a try and see what happens. I hope it helps you overcome the nightmare they call writers block as it did for me.
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